Why 2027? RWC’s are being awarded alternately to Tier 1 and Tier 2 countries. The next shot is 2035. That’s a long time away.
And, we must be competitive on the field by that time.
Why? Americans love winners. Full stop. For rugby to ‘take off’, we must perform at our home RWC2027 tournament.
USA Rugby has an Opportunity to have the Entire Sporting World take note
USA Rugby needs a compelling vision, one that will make the entire sporting world take note, and win this hosting bid. A plan to bid also fits in well with the Major Market initiative as indicated in USA Rugby’s recently released Strategic Plan. RWC’s require approximately 12-13 venues. Between NFL & College stadia, and MLS grounds, the USA has such world class venues. During the ongoing process to position a PRO 12 team in both the USA and Canada, several prominent NFL owners have shown sincere interest in rugby utilizing their facilities, as well as several MLB owners. Each Major Market can work on their particular hosting site between now and the tournament.
The RWC2027 Bid is the next logical step in USA Rugby’s Strategic Plan
Creating a space for each ‘major market’ to succeed is how the Strategic Plan can fit into a leadership vision that is more than “Lets put a Test in San Antonio” (See recent ARC match that hosted 1,700 spectators). It is time that we stop playing ‘small ball’. The World Cup hosting would be the impetus to get all our major markets (again as defined in the Strategic Plan) operational on issues like Professional Rugby, Development of the College game in the major markets, Top quality athlete recruitment and retention, etc.. Each major market (I have used the term ‘hub’) independently gets to develop their own programs under the guidance of USAR, and with the vision to host RWC2027.
An article was recently published indicating Argentina’s desire and confidence that they will be hosting RWC2027. The cover photo featured Gus Pichot – architect of Argentina’s rise on the field in the 90’s and beyond, and embedded in their continued success the first two decades of this century. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of World Rugby.
Pronouncement by former USAR CEO: We will bid on RWC2027
I recall at USAR’s National Development Summit in 2016, then USAR CEO Nigel Melville speaking about our plan to bid on hosting RWC2027, but little has been mentioned to the rugby public since. Reading the article re: Argentina and RWC2027 created a feeling of optimism and hope thinking about USA’s chances of hosting, yet the depressing realization that based on recent performance, the leadership we currently have at the Board level at USA Rugby most likely does not have the vision, or capacity to execute on securing this vital World Cup hosting bid. It should be a national embarrassment if we were to lose out to Argentina, and even more so if we do not enter the most aggressive, professional bid we can. ‘No bidding’ is not an acceptable option. We may not have had rugby success on the field, but with the global popularity rugby will have by 2027 and the proven successes of hosting the “Chicago Rugby Weekend’s”, the USA clearly has all the resources necessary to host the 3rd largest sporting event in the world. Note 500,000 fans visited the UK to attend RWC2015, I believe that 12 years from now this number would be considered modest for the number of global rugby fans that would visit the USA in 2027. Selling seats to matches will not be a problem. Note that over 95% of tickets were sold for RWC2015.
I have doubts that despite the USA’s vast resources to host such an event, we may well be beaten out by Argentina. It is once again time to hold our Board to account. Do we have the personnel in place to make RWC2027 a reality in the USA? I heard Melville’s pronouncement loud and clear. What has been done since? Pichot created a vision for a sustainable Argentina market, and more importantly, executed this vision. We see where Argentina is now in the rugby space. Rugby World has called Pichot, ‘the most powerful man in World Rugby’. We need similar leadership in the USA.
It is my understanding that the execution of RWC2018 7s tournament in San Francisco could be evaluated in any RWC2027 bid. With this level of magnitude and importance, I must question why our leadership hired the GM to run RWC2018 at least 6 months too late. She has inferred, “We will be managing this event to break-even”. Some ‘in the know’ people have advised this could be a ‘7 figure loss’.
The All-In Moment!
The years leading up to the bid for RWC2027 are an “All in Moment”. We must muster cooperation between the American Rugby leadership and American Sports business leadership. Currently, these relationships are scarce, and often the strongest are held by people not involved in any official capacity with USA Rugby. The very nature of declaring a bold vision such as hosting a RWC, would also ‘raise the bar’ at all levels of our rugby administration, something that is desperately needed.
However, a RWC2027 bid is not even mentioned in the recently released 2017 USA Rugby Strategic Plan We must have all hands on deck, our leadership operating on all cylinders. “I have a day job”, cannot be the mantra of our volunteer’s in this effort, despite my hearing that in person by a senior volunteer leader at USA Rugby.
Not winning this bid would mean continued irrelevance of USA Rugby globally.
The World Rugby Council decides the RWC locations. This council is chaired by the great British and Irish Lion, Bill Beaumont. As mentioned above, Pichot of Argentina is the Vice Chair. USA Rugby’s representative to World Rugby Council is Bob Latham, a USA Rugby Board member for 22 years – and Chairman throughout nearly all of Nigel Melville’s tenure. Let’s hope he’s got the USA bid in the works in the backrooms of the World Rugby Council meetings.
If you are a supporter of rugby in America, get engaged in assisting in any way for the USA to host this prestigious event. Ask your administrative representatives, what, if anything, is our leadership doing right now to visualize and construct our bid? Here is the link to the USA Rugby Congress.
The stakes for success have NEVER been higher for our beloved sport in this country. We must have “A” players, on and off the field. No exception. It sounds like a long time away; it’s only 10 years.
This is the time for “The Giant to Awaken!”
Who is up for this challenge? We must host this tournament, or be relegated to irrelevance for yet another decade. This is the time for “The Giant to Awaken”.
Related Document: Argentina Rugby Strategic Plan 2015
Other Articles I have Written on these topics:
- USA Rugby: Professionalism & The Strategic Plan (The most important thing you never cared about)
- Structure/Organization in USA Rugby. The Plan must dictate! (TR: Part 2)